Kids grow at lightning speed, don’t they? Before you know it, your kiddo can’t squeeze his feet into those puppy slippers he wore happily for six months, and you’re staring at a closet full of clothes that no longer fit. And it’s not just the clothes. Over time, your house becomes a brightly colored mausoleum of discarded toys and playthings, all working fine but no longer interesting to your children.
If you’ve found yourself with an abundance of clothes and toys and no idea where to take them other than your local Goodwill center, then this list is for you.
Chattanooga is a generous city, you guys. In searching for local donation spots and asking friends for recommendations, I found a whole bunch of places to take your things. But since space is tight here, I’m going to limit this roundup to just a sampling. All of these local donation centers in the Chattanooga area take physical donations, and almost all of them give those donations straight back to clients (children and/or parents) in need. Plus, these organizations go above and beyond the call of duty and offer other services, like educational training and housing.
Here’s a list to get you started:
Where: 1714 Duncan Avenue, Chattanooga, TN
What they do/take: Baby University operates on a case management system, catering to children and expectant parents by offering educational resources, mentoring and coaching, resource connections, and community building activities. They’re funded through the City of Chattanooga, Signal Centers, and Blue Cross Blue Shield of Tennessee Foundation. Baby U takes all kinds of donations related to babies and childcare, from gently used clothing to hygiene items and cleaning supplies. These items are given to families directly, and donations are tax deductible.
Contact: LaSha’ Rockymore (423-582-7903)
Bethel Thrift Store
Where: 5135 Hixson Pike, Hixson, TN
What they do/take: Founded over 60 years ago, Bethel Bible Village primarily serves children and youth without access to safe housing. As part of their nondenominational faith-based ministry, Bethel operates a thrift store that accepts a wide range of donations, from clothing and books to small appliances and household furnishings. All proceeds from the thrift store are used to fund Bethel’s mission of providing a safe home for their residents, but some donated goods are given directly to children in need.
Contact: General office (423) 870-9056
The Chambliss Center
Where: 315 Gillespie Road, Chattanooga, TN
What they do/take: The Chambliss Center operates as a licensed Child Placing Agency and a group home, providing placement services and temporary housing for children in the Chattanooga area. They also provide educational programs for low-income families and other early childhood education programs, including in-school care for children of teachers in 12 area public schools. Chambliss accepts donated children’s items, which they use with the children they serve or house. Anything they can’t use directly gets sold in their thrift stores, the proceeds of which go toward funding their various programs. All donations are tax deductible.
Contact: General office ([email protected])
Where: 6232 Vance Road & 846 McCallie Avenue, Chattanooga, TN (two locations)
What they do/take: Choices is a nonprofit pregnancy resource center serving the greater Chattanooga area with a host of free and confidential services. These include limited obstetrical ultrasounds, STD/STI education, medical consultations, and referrals to programs and professionals like WIC, Medicaid, adoption agencies, and doctors. They also accept donations of baby items and clothing, which are tax deductible, and all donated items are given directly to clients. (Full disclosure: I’ve sponsored Choices for years, but I’m not biased about where you should donate.)
Contact: Michelle Cheresnick (423-892-0803)
Northside Neighborhood House
Where: Three locations (Soddy-Daisy, Red Bank, and downtown Chattanooga)
What they do/take: Northside Neighborhood House runs three thrift stores in the Chattanooga area. While they don’t give donations directly back to clients, they do take donated children’s clothing to sell in their stores. Proceeds from the thrift stores then get funneled into direct local outreach programs. These include helping adults complete high school equivalent degrees and assisting with utility bills or groceries. During Christmas, Northside runs the Santa’s Workshop Program, which takes donated coats and gives them directly to local children. All donations to a Northside thrift store are tax deductible.
Contact: Kym Alverson (423-267-2217)
The Samaritan Center
Where: 6017 Ooltewah-Georgetown Road, Ooltewah, TN
What they do/take: The Samaritan Center grew out of the efforts of Seventh-Day Adventist churches in the Collegedale area. Their aim is to provide social services for area families, which includes help with utilities and rent, school supplies, food, life coaching, and clothing and household items, among other things. Donated items help support these social services. New items go directly to clients while used items get sold at the center’s thrift stores. Proceeds of thrift store sales (about 15 percent) go toward social services. All cash donations go directly toward funding social services, and all donated items are tax deductible.
Contact: General office (423-238-7777)
These are just a handful of the many places that exist where you can donate items locally to make a direct impact on your neighbors’ lives. Note that I’m not against Goodwill or chain thrift stores at all. Donate where you can and want to. But if you’re looking to support a local organization, give one (or all) of these a try.